The Gospel of Salvation - Part I

Justification from sins

Michael Hardt

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. What is the meaning of the word ‘Gospel’?

2. What is the subject of the Gospel?

3. Why was Paul not ashamed of the Gospel?

4. What is the righteousness of God?

5. Who needs the Gospel?

6. Are there no exceptions? What about cultivated people? Or Israel?

7. Is there no solution? How can man come to God?

8. What does it mean to be ‘justified’?

9. What is meant by ‘works of the law’?

10. So how can anyone be justified then before God?

11. What is meant by ‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood’?

12. How can God justify a sinner and at the same time be just?

13. What about Old Testament Saints? How were they justified?

14. But does not James say that Abraham was justified by works?

15. What are the consequences of justification?

16. Why did Christ have to be raised for our justification?

 

 

1. What is the meaning of the word 'Gospel'?

The Greek word means ‘good news’. In Ancient Greece, when a battle was won, a messenger was sent to the city and, coming nearer, he would exclaim this one word ‘evangelion’: good news – the battle is won! Man did not seek God! But the good news is that God seeks man (see Luke 15)!

 

2. What is the subject of the Gospel?

In the Bible the gospel tells us how, when man had completely failed, God established a way for man to come to God. This way is through His Son, the Lord Jesus, who was and is God but became man and died on the cross for sinners: “the gospel of God… concerning His son” (Rom 1:1.3). This is the one and only way that leads to God. Man did not seek God but the good news is that God sought man (see Luke 15).

 

3. Why was Paul not ashamed of the Gospel ( Rom. 1:16.17)?

For several reasons. First, it is the ‘power of God’ to everyone who believes (v.16). The gospel has the power to transform people and to bring them to God (if they accept and believe). Also, the gospel is universal (for Jews and Gentiles, 1:16 ). Finally, the righteousness of God is shown (‘revealed’) in this Gospel.

4. What is the righteousness of God?

God is righteous[1]: when He condemns the sinner in His wrath ( Rom. 1:17.18), when He raised Jesus and gave Him a place of honour (Jn.16:10), and when He forgives sins which are confessed (1 John 1:9), when He justifies those who believe on Jesus (Rom.3:25; 4:5). Especially the last of these is surprising at first sight. To see why, have a look at question 12.

5. Who needs the Gospel?

Everyone. Paul divides mankind into three groups: the barbarians, the civilised heathens, and the Jews. Everyone belongs to one of these three groups. And Paul demonstrates (Romans 1:18-2:23 ) that each group is guilty before God, without the gospel is everyone without hope.

6. Are there no exceptions? What about cultivated people? Or Israel?

No. The barbarians are guilty (even if they never heard the gospel) because they could have known the creator simply by looking at creation around them but they refused. The civilised people made rules but did not keep them. And Israel had the law, and broke it. “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3: 10 ). “For there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23 ).

 

7. Is there no solution? How can man come to God?

There is. To see what exactly this solution is, bear in mind that God is a righteous judge. And he is omniscient. He knows each and every one of your sins. There are only two options. Either He must condemn you or you must become ‘righteous’ before Him. To see how this can be done, please look at the following questions.

 

8. What does it mean to be ‘justified’ (Rom. 3:20 )?

Justified means ‘declared righteous’. This is even better than innocent. If you are justified you can point to Christ at God’s right hand and say ‘I belong to Him, that’s why I’m righteous’. Innocent Adam could not do this. So, if someone wanted to condemn you as guilty, he would first have to condemn Christ as unrighteous – and this is impossible.

 

9. What is meant by ‘works of the law’ (Rom. 3:20)?

Works of the law are not only works aimed at keeping the law of Moses but works aiming at keeping any kind of law (literally: ‘works of law’). The people of Israel proved this in the case of the law of Moses. But it is a general principle. There are no works, there is nothing that man can do, which would make him just or righteous before God.

 

10. So how can anyone be justified then before God (Rom. 3:22-25)?

As far as we are concerned, only by faith. As far as God is concerned, only by grace. By faith means that we trust in Christ, that He has paid the price for our sins and that this is enough. By grace means that we can only accept, we cannot do anything and we cannot add anything. But we are also justified by blood. By blood means that the Lord Jesus had to die (as our substitute).

 

11. What is meant by ‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood’? (Rom. 3:25)

‘Propitiation’ or ‘atonement’ means ‘covering’ (in Hebrew). In the Old Testament it was used for the lid (‘cover’) of the ark of the covenant. The tables of the law were in the ark (declaring that man was guilty). The cherubim looked down onto the golden lid of the ark which speaks of the immaculate glory of God (so they had to acknowledge that God had to condemn man). But then the lid of the ark was sprinkled with blood (Lev.16), the blood of an innocent victim, shed for a guilty people. So God could spare His people. This is a picture of what Christ has done: He gave his life, His blood was shed, so that God does not have to judge us. We are ‘covered’ by His giving his life for us.

12. How can God justify a sinner and at the same time be just?

Because Christ became the substitute. If you pay my debt, then what can the judge do? Nothing! Someone else has paid on my behalf. No man could have invented such a wonderful message. God forgives (this is wonderful in itself) but God does not ‘overlook’ sins. He forgives after having judged sins and condemned sin. The problem has been solved, but in a righteous way.

 

13. What about Old Testament Saints? How were they justified (ch 4)?

In the same way as New Testament believers: by faith. Abraham believed God and this was counted righteousness for him. And God could do this, righteously, because He looked at the (then future) sacrifice of Christ: Romans 3:25.26.

 

14. But does not James say that Abraham was justified by works?

Well, yes. But James is talking about justification before men (works as a proof of faith, James 2:21 ). How could men see that Abraham was righteous? Only by his works. When he went to offer Isaac he gave the proof. But God knew long before that Abraham believed. And He counted him righteous then (Gen.15:6.7).

 

15. What are the consequences of justification (Rom. 5:1)?

We have peace with God. This is tremendous. No issues between God and us! Nothing that separates. Unbelievers are at enmity with God and need to be reconciled with Him. For a believer there is peace (not only a promise that he will have peace with God, but he has it already!). And there is much more: read Romans 5:1-11 to see the wonderful consequences of justification and peace with God.

 

16.Why did Christ have to be raised for our justification?

The work of Christ was done when He said ‘it is finished’ and delivered up His spirit (John 19:30 ). But without His resurrection, how would we know that His death was sufficient for God? Now that Christ is raised we have the proof. God was fully satisfied with Him and accepted His work (Romans 4:25 ).

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[1] God is love (1 John 4:16 ) but God is also light (1 John 1:5).